CHILDREN’s PLAYS of VIETNAM – Minutes of the MEETING on February, 22, 1943

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    Chairmanship: Mr. GEORGE CŒDÈS, (Fig. 1) Chairman – The Indochinese Institute for  the Study of Man has met on February 22, 1943,  at 17: 45, at the Anatomical Institute.

    Were present :

  Messrs. G. CŒDÈS, P. HUARD, P. GUILLE-MINET, ĐỖ XUÂN HỢP, RIOU, NGUYỄN VĂN TỐ, NGUYỄN XUÂN NGUYÊN, NGUYỄN VĂN HUYÊN, staff-members, Mrs. CASTAGNOL, Messrs. L. BEZACIER, E. BOIS, TRẦN VĂN GIÁP, NGUYỄN THIỆU LÂU, J. MANUKUS, NGÔ QUÝ SƠN, VŨ ĐÌNH TỤNG and VŨ THANH.

   Mr. NGÔ QUÝ SƠN (Fig. 2) presents to the Institude a work entitled “Activities of the Annamese children’s community in Tonkin”, its games, its songs, etc.

   This expose is outlined by a note of Mr. P. LÉVY (Fig. 3), showing the importance one should give to the studies of children’s communities.

    After reading these two works, Mr. NGUYỄN VĂN TỐ came back to the verses, sung by Vietnamese children when they play the hide-and-seek games, and offered an interpretation dating back the said song to King HÀM NGHI (1885), believing that it described Hàm Nghi’s flight in deploring the miseries of that epoch.

    Mr. NGUYỄN VĂN HUYÊN (Fig. 4) proposes another version;  according to him, that song would date back from the Lê’s epoch.

    Mr. VŨ THANH points out that this song may very well be much more ancient, and it could, he said, express the lamentation of the Orient when getting in touch with the Occident, and had been re-adapted twice in precise opportunities.

    Certain passages of the works of Mr. SƠN and LÉVY give rise to other remarks.

    Mr. P. GUILLEMINET (Fig. 5) calls attention to the following passage from the note of Mr. P. LÉVY: “Without importance from the sexual, religious, social viewpoints, the children can allow themseves its ridicule the most the children are permitted to retain in their games traces of  formulae, more or  less deformed… Everywhere the children just cannot, indeed, commit any more sacrileges”.

    Mr. P. GUILLEMINET notes :

1/. That the annamese children hoodoo by their game, exactly like the Bahnar still actually do, by using a small coffin and by proceeding to a sham burial. (Fig. 6)

2/. That, with the Bahnar, the children (as well as the old people) are sometimes entrusted with the task the one run by addults.

    He points out also the importance which the breaking of a stick, a solemn act, seems to assume in all coutries. Mr. P. LÉVY mentions the Laos; the breaking of wooden sticks is also, in the Bahnar region, (Fig. 6) the sign of a bargain, as well as the materialization of a curse uttered by the Gom maleficent sorcerers (of Laotian origin moreover).

    In Provence, in the course of a discussion, one of the anta-gonists would place a traw on his shoulder and challenge his adversary: “Dare you  take it, the straw?”. At time, the sentence itself suffices and constitutes a formal challenge.

    Professor P. HUARD (Fig. 7) points out the same fact at Lorent where the children place a straw on their shoulders, chal-lenging the one they want to frighten by telling him: “Are you capable of fighting with me?”.

    To conclude, the Chairman draws the attention of the Institute on the numerous comparisons from group to group, brought about by the studies of the children societies, and on the relations from group to group such societies permit to raveal.

    While certain games pass from one population to another with case of the annamese game “đáo lỗ – hole chucking” (Fig. 7) their original names (such as the that has passed from Vietnam to Cambodia under its original name), other indentical games exist, on the contrary, in diversed places under different names.

    In this same manner, the Dragon game (Fig. 9) quoted by Mr. SƠN exists in Cambodia under the shape of a hen defending its chicks against the fishing eagle. In Siam (Thailand), this  game is even more complicated: it is question of father-snake, and trying to catch the   last one of the file, after having asked diversed questions, enti-rely different form the ones one asks in Annam (Vietnam).

    The Chairman also calls attention to the fact that something which is only a game in a certain country may become a rite in other countries: the swings game is a sacred one in India and in the Tay country.

    He finally draw the audience’s attention to a treatise on fighting paper kite game, (Fig. 10) written in Siamese language, and entirely delicated to paper kite games, among which he points out the following.

    The paper kite (Fig. 11) pre-sented by Mr. SƠN is a male kite that has a tip. The player holding the cord of this paper kite strives to use it to stave in a rounded off kite, called a female kite. But, the cord of the female kite is gluey and covered with ground glass, aimed at wearing away the cord of the male kite each time the two cord rub against each other. The victory belongs to the male kite if it could stave in the female kite, and to the female kite if it could break the cord of the male kite.

    Toward the end of the ses-sion, the Chairman speciffies that the work of Mr. NGÔ QUÝ SƠN, presented by Mr. P. LÉVY, to which are added the notes of Mr. NGUYỄN VĂN TỐ and NGUYỄN VĂN HUYÊN, shall be pulished in extenso on the Bulletin.  (Fig. 12-15)

    The session is dissolved at 19:15 PM ./.

NOTES:
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BAN TU THU
06 /2020

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